Center of Focus, 03/14

Courtesy Photos Mr. Sizoo-Roberson leads an elementary team engaged in professional learning classroom management. Mr. Noriega shares at the end of a high school PLC.

The fourth and final Improvement Strategy our district is focusing on this school year as part of our District Action Plan is Recruitment and Retention. Our school district is committed to attracting the best and brightest to teach our students. Our goal is to recruit, train and retain the most highly qualified teachers. Our students deserve it.  
We know the importance of quality instruction and the impact a good teacher makes on students. Effective educators are the single most important school based factor determining student success. The evidence is indisputable and the research supports the importance of an effective teacher. Educational researchers, Mortimore and Sammons, found in a popular study that teaching had 6 to10 times as much impact on achievement as all other factors combined.  
Another study conducted by Sanders and Horn found that three years of effective teaching accounts on average for an improvement of 35-50 percentile points on student achievement. We know and believe in the positive impact a teacher can have on our students, and that is why finding the best and keeping them in our district is a top priority for our team.  
This is a significant challenge in today’s society, due to the teacher shortage. There are several contributing factors to the teacher shortage. Some of the cause dates back to the recession in 2008-2009. Because there were few jobs available and a large number of teaching candidates at that time, the supply was excessive compared to the demand. As a result, educators left the profession searching for work. Many of those educators have not returned to the profession, even as the demand for teachers has increased.  
Other contributing factors include the increased demands of the profession, working conditions, lack of autonomy, and lack of support for teachers. We also have a high rate of attrition in education. Compared to high-achieving countries like Finland, Singapore, and Ontario, in which only about three to four percent of teachers leave in a given year, US attrition rates are closer to eight percent over the last decade, and these rates are higher in high-poverty schools and with beginning teachers.  
We are taking a multi-faceted approach to address these challenges in Center. First of all, we recognize the importance of promoting the profession and our district. Teaching is the greatest profession. On a daily basis, teachers solve problems, develop great thinkers, and change lives.  Teachers positively impact the future. Our school is full of future politicians, doctors, lawyers, social workers, nurses, trades men and women, teachers, broadcasters and more. We get to see brilliance every day.  
In Center, we are future focused and believe in excellence in all we do, every day. There is a special culture that has been developed here and our work is always student centered. This is the place to be and great things are happening.
We are fortunate to have an amazing staff in place. Our teachers are well versed in effective instructional pedagogy and use up to date teaching strategies in their classroom on a daily basis.  From Kagan engagement techniques to the Thinking Strategies classroom, our teachers have been trained in the most effective instructional strategies and this is evident in daily instruction.
Our retention plan focuses on providing supports for our staff through mentoring opportunities, real incentives aligned to teacher input/needs, opportunities for career advancement, and professional collaboration and networking. We value our experienced staff and will work hard to honor their efforts and provide them with the support they need to excel.
Another prong in our approach is to grow our own educators and support our students who have an interest in the profession in pursuing their teaching degree. We hope to establish community and university partnerships in getting more people interested in the field in various roles, from substitute teachers, to paraprofessionals, and teachers. This approach will establish an environment of collaboration and allow potential teachers with valuable hands on experience while also providing our staff and students with additional support in the classroom environment.  
The strategy will be to usher promising community-based candidates through the teacher pipeline by leveraging partnerships between our district, teacher prep programs, and community organizations. The plan includes providing wrap-around supports, such as learning cohorts, mentoring, coaching, on site instruction, practicum experience, and possible financial aid.  
Continuing to have the best and the brightest teaching for our students will take work and dedication, but we are committed to this goal and will take the necessary steps to see this through. 


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